Writer Ray died yesterday, January 11, 2013. I met Writer at an Open Mic, where, in those days he was a frequent contributor. A Cowboy Poet and author he shared his poetry and prose with people gathered at North Platte’s A to Z Books. I remember Writer’s ability to weave a story and end with a twist you did not see coming. His wit and wisdom graced his writing and presence.
Writer always offered support, critique, and inspiration to authors, poets and musicians. After I read one of his favorite Robert Service poems, “The Spell of the Yukon” he shared some advice on how I could memorize the poem. I have notes on my copy of “The Spell of the Yukon” from his lesson on the proper pronunciation and the meaning of “cussedest.” Several of his books populate the local authors corner at A to Z Books.
During Friday’s Open Mic we celebrated Writer and his contribution to our lives. Ed and Stu played several of his poems they put to music. Stu remembered Writer pressing him to put more of his poetry to music. Stu also read one of Writer’s poems. I read his story “The Rocking Chair.” And in his honor I shared Robert Service’s “The Spell of the Yukon.” Throughout the night I heard people sharing stories of their time with Writer. The last time I saw Writer was at an Open Mic.
Writer was a teacher and mentors who came into my life for a short time. He was a friend and yet I didn’t know that much about him in the way friends do. I did find our conversations affirming, enriching and challenging in the way friends do. We didn’t spend much time together the way friends do. I am grateful for the way Writer graced my life, the way friends are.